While the media and politicians from both parties look for deeper reasons for President Trump’s firing of FBI Director James B. Comey, a former Justice Department official says the decision was long overdue and needed for obvious reasons.
Former Deputy Assistant Attorney General Victoria Toensing says she and others in the the justice and law enforcement community urged Trump to dismiss Comey from day one.
“It just came too late, 109 days too late. Those of us in the swamp knew who the alligators were in the swamp, and we all tried to warn the White House and they didn’t listen to us,” said Toensing, who also served as a federal prosecutor.
And why did they implore Trump to fire him?
“Comey was a narcissist. It was all about Comey and he delighted in wanting to bring down powerful people if they were Republicans,” said Comey.
Toensing also points to how Comey, during his days as deputy attorney general in the George W. Bush administration, tapped his close friend, Patrick Fitzgerald to investigate the alleged exposing of a covert CIA operative.
That probe resulted in a criminal conviction for Lewis “Scooter” Libby, former chief of staff to former Vice President Dick Cheney. But that’s not who Fitzgerald really wanted.
“Throughout that investigation, Scooter’s lawyer was told consistently by the Fitzgerald people, ‘If you give up Dick Cheney, this will all go away.’ They were trying to bring down Dick Cheney, and you can bet your bottom dollar that Comey was talking with Fitzgerald while he was doing this,” said Toensing, who represents Libby in his quest for a presidential pardon.
On Tuesday, the Trump administration released its rationale for the Comey firing, focusing on his public announcement that no charges should be filed against Hillary Clinton in the wake of the FBI probe into her use of a private, unsecured server through which she sent and received classified information while she served as Secretary of State.
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein accused Comey of usurping the authority of the attorney general in making such a pronouncement and for exposing Clinton’s misdeeds when he was effectively closing the investigation.
But Toensing says Comey made far more mistakes, starting with his repeated misstating of the statute in question. Comey insisted that intent to break the law was required to bring charges, while gross negligence is the standard laid out in federal law. She also savaged Comey for refusing to impanel a grand jury to probe Clinton and for allowing the same attorney to represent multiple witnesses in the case.
“That’s called a conflict of interest, because that lawyer can get all of her clients together and they can all read from the same music. You never do that,” said Toensing.
Toensing is also dismissing the intense reaction from Democrats, who she says are now appalled after calling for Comey’s head for months. She says the idea that Trump fired Comey because of the ongoing Russia investigation is ridiculous and so are any comparisons to Richard Nixon’s “Saturday Night Massacre.”
“In Watergate, there was a crime. There was a burglary. There was a break-in. What’s the crime here? What’s the crime? Do we have a crime? No, there’s no crime,” said Toensing, noting that Russian involvement in U.S. elections is nothing new.
“That’s been going on since Richard Nixon. Why is it all of a sudden an issue this time, just because Hillary lost? If Hillary had won, there would not be any inquiry into whatever the Russians did regarding this election process,” said Toensing.
Toensing is also upset with congressional Republicans, both for not doing more at recent hearings to point out that Russian interference in elections is not the same as collusion with the Trump campaign. She also says the past 24 hours show Democrats are far better at messaging than the GOP.
Finally, Toensing believes former New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly would be an ideal successor to Comey at the FBI and is someone who has worked for Republicans and Democrats.
“He is a lifetime career cop. That’s what we need at the FBI now to gain confidence,” said Toensing.